Bode Miller brought a degree of ocus into the opening three races that only a 12-year-World Cup veteran could summon.
The Triumphof Age and Treachery
What masters racers can learn from Bode Miller’s Olympic performance BY BILL MCCOLLOM
ALL MASTERS SKI RACERS are acutely aware that the aging process is
as welcome as George Clooney’s character in the movie “Up in the Air.” But
as Bode Miller showed during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games,
aging can also offer some benefits.
Masters racers are so frequently injured that oftentimes Class contests
turn into wars of attrition — last person standing wins. Racers just hope
to maintain their skills for as long as good health allows. The same holds
true for world-class athletes. When the body starts to go — regardless of age
— all the duct tape, bailing wire, and ibuprofen in creation will not stem the
tide. It’s a battle.
It’s a battle that’s also being fought on the World Cup, because aging has
a positive side became apparent in watching the alpine events of the 2010
Games. In this case, those with the experience and maturity that come
with age (and those who still have the physical skills that come with youth)
seemed to be the ones most capable of performing well on a stage as promi-
nent as the Games.
Those fortunate enough to turn 30 with all their reflexes, strength, and
agility intact have entered the “prime-time” performance zone of ski racing.
Athletes such as Michaela Dorfmeister, Hermann Maier, Lasse Kjus, and
Kjetil Andre Aamodt have opened the door to reveal what can be accom-
plished by the elder statespersons of the sport. And now, Bode Miller, Didier
Cuche, Didier Defago, Michael Walchhofer and Patrik Jaerbyn continue to
push the aging envelope.
The 32-year-old Dorfmeister set age records for female Olympic gold
medalists in the 2006 Games, while the then 34-year-old Aamodt did the
same for the men with a gold medal run in super G in 2006. And the records
just keep on falling. Swiss speedster Didier Defago became the most senior
Olympic men’s downhill winner in Whistler at the age of 32. That record
would have been shattered had the current World Cup downhill leader and
gold medal favorite, Didier Cuche, put down the winning run at age 35.
They’re all spring chickens, however, compared to the ageless Swede
Patrik Jaerbyn. Jaerbyn gained a measure of fame in these 2010 Games,
but not so much for his age of 40. Jaerbyn still is ranked in the top 30 in
Kjetil Andre Aamodt